95 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 171 LONDON, 8 March 1940, 7.55 p.m.

FOR THE PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET

In long discussion with Prime Minister [1] most points in my questionnaire [2] considered. In view of conversations having started with Sweden as intermediary it seems that action the United Kingdom contemplated limited to informing the Finnish Government, if terms cannot be arrived at, United Kingdom, on Finland appealing for help, will despatch by air fifty bombers and immediately approach Norway and Sweden with regard to the passage of troops. No modification of already declared attitude of these countries anticipated. In such an event or if while not actually resisting steps were taken to impede, e.g., removal of rolling stock recognised inadvisable and in fact impracticable to send troops via these countries.

Following answers to my questionnaire show attitude on other issues involved if Finland appeals.

(1) Yes.

(2) Primarily (a) also (c) to which great importance attached. Not (b).

(3) (a) In the first instance not more than 2,000 to 15,000; (b) Very limited, exact number not certain; (c) Probably only for two or three months but felt well might develop so as to allow greater assistance than at present practicable; (d) Yes, 50 heavy bombers;

(e) Not so serious as to preclude action; (f) and (g) No.

(4) Yes.

(5) Yes.

(6) and (7) As action in immediate future considered unlikely to raise either point could not get them considered.

Above indicate unlikely Allied assistance except bombers can be sent. Nevertheless in the event of Finnish appeal, bombers win probably be sent in the hope of preventing Finnish collapse and enable them to continue resistance till the thaw commences.

Realised may not have desired result but felt worth attempt.

I doubt if issue will arise as my impression is that discussions having started some agreement may be arrived at. Terms even if not as drastic as those published will be severe and repercussions on the Allies serious.

BRUCE

1 Neville Chamberlain.

2 See Document 93.

[AA: A981, EUROPE 30, ii]